100-Word Fiction: ‘Composition at a Toumani and Sidiki Diabate Concert’

It is boat season and migrating humans attempt more perilous journeys across the Mediterranean. Europe is a dream but not always a destiny. Paper-sketched holding centres are a plan for refugees: some sand-blown pop-ups in north Africa and the Middle East – not a solution, just a siesta for peace. News from the front line is of a colossal catastrophe. Humanitarianism becomes hubris in the mouths of the powerful. Razor-wire fences don’t stop the desperate. Riot police have bulldozed camps in Calais. There is nowhere to go. In London, I hear the sound of duelling koras seeking harmony in the night.

100-Word Fiction: ‘Boat People’

I dreamed we had to cross the creek where the old ford once made it easy. The river was deep and the current strong. Silt turned the water brown. Or was the river a lake too wide to swim across? Or was it a sea? There were boats crammed full of people, shouting, who stood on cabin roofs, clinging to anything that would keep them aboard. They were the boat people of Vietnam, Somalia, South Sudan. They were toppling into the water, over and over, disappearing under… And I floated, floated, wakening, over, swimming, crossing, hoping, toppling, clinging, floating, floating…

100-Word Fiction: ‘A Raft for the Medusa’

A decade’s unreported anarchy brings blood and dust, charted in numberless rusted cells where violence tells and torture proves.

They flee across the desert by truck, in the hands and debt of gangs, to make border disappearances.

In Libya and Yemen the smuggled bodies pay for thieved papers with degraded favours. Honours are all lost.

In the sea is the promise of every era’s castaways: souls strewn on the dark silent waves, squinting for island havens.

A small craft is a black dot in the indigo deep, the sun only a fire, a boat just another raft for the medusa.

100-Word Fiction: ‘But If It Is What We Believe’

You must believe that what we did was not wrong.
You must believe that we did not what was wrong.
What you must believe… that we did… was not wrong.
Must you believe that what we did was not wrong?
You must not believe that what we did was wrong.

What was wrong that we did you must not believe.
We must believe that what you did was not wrong.
Not what we did was wrong. You must believe that.
You believe not. What must we did that was wrong.
You must not believe that what we did was wrong.